By UMAR SA’AD HASSAN –
There are people very skilled in the art of escaping the truth and the only time they don’t deploy their skill is when the truth favours them. The most privileged of the lot are the partially deaf. Their condition avails them the special luxury of selecting what they want to hear, even though they heard all there is to hear and it is almost impossible to prove otherwise.
Our president flew overseas to treat an ear infection earlier in the year (the nature of the sickness was never disclosed), so needless to say that his ‘truth-dodging’ skills are as legit as they come. President Buhari listens with the good ear when people agree with him that the arms deal scam perpetrated by Dasuki was most abominable, but anything being said about the unlawfulness of Dasuki’s continued detention after being granted bail falls on the bad ear. It’s almost two weeks since the ECOWAS court sitting in Abuja ordered his immediate release and awarded N15million as damages, but all that has fallen on the president’s bad ear. The damning consequences of this judgement worry me more than the amount awarded. We are demonstrating to the world just how low we have degenerated by flaunting our disregard for the most basic democratic tenet: the rule of law.
Anyone with the best interest of this nation at heart isn’t any different from him at the moment. They are hoping God would take control. When our leaders turn oppressors and stop our laws from applying to some, the victims can only hope for their day in God’s court. On that day, Buhari will not be partially deaf, for God knows all that is in the heart of men.
The EFCC still hasn’t answered the critical questions bordering on its modus operandi. Patience Jonathan and Ayo Fayose have claimed that the provisions of Section 34 of the EFCC Act, which states that the EFCC must obtain a judge’s order before freezing their bank accounts, were not adhered to. Sen. Musiliu Obanikoro is also claiming that no search warrant was presented before his house was searched and documents carted away in the raid on his Lagos home. The EFCC, the president and his agents have not debunked these claims with proof.
Laws exist to regulate human conduct. No authority, no matter how highly placed, has the right to just barge into your house and begin to search your belongings or walk into any bank and order that your account be frozen. The law puts checks in place to safeguard the rights of all citizens. But where these laws are a luxury not afforded some and where orders of courts are obeyed only when they fall on the right ear of the man in charge, then what we have is a dictatorship. When our laws are subjected to discretionary obedience and the judicial system is rendered powerless, there is a place where nothing is hidden and no one will bully the weak. That place is called God’s court.
After an alleged attack on the chief of army staff by members of the Shi’ite islamic sect in the northern city of Zaria in Kaduna State, the army embarked on a killing spree of its members, leaving 347 dead (official number).The leader, Sheik Elzakzaky, appeared critically wounded in photos of his arrest and is still being held in captivity as I write this.
Some state governments recently banned the sect and, in what seemed an orchestrated attack in about four northern cities, its members were descended upon while performing their annual Shura procession. The attacks extended to their homes after the procession had ended and it was sad to see innocent men and women butchered right in their homes. A lot of Shi’ite members have been protesting before the procession. And what have they been protesting against? The reluctance to release or prosecute its leader. They were mostly in the streets in their ceremonial outfit to protest an injustice done to them.
The Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, while speaking with Buhari after the Zaria killings, urged him to treat the matter with utmost caution so a small matter doesn’t degenerate into a bigger one. This is where our president’s deafness has landed us.
In God’s court, Buhari will not be able to feign ignorance of the many calls to prosecute that man since last year. He cannot claim that the constitution he swore to uphold does not specify a time frame in which a person can be held without trial. There is no doubt as to the ear that listens to his aides say he is laundering our image and attracting foreign investors with the constant trips abroad, but I also pray that same ear listens to the implications of his deafness.
The international community frowns at human rights violations and every country seizes every opening to parade itself as an advocate of these rights. The US was said to have considered lifting the arms sale ban it placed on Nigeria under the Leahy Law until the killing of the Shi’ites in Zaria. The continued detention of Elzakzaky and the non-prosecution of the military officers indicted by the judicial panel of inquiry set up to probe the incident does us more harm than good. This country has a lot of agreements in place with Iran, the spiritual home of the sect, and it is unlikely we are still in their good books.
At the end of the day, Buhari’s deafness affects us all. What a lot of people saw as an unparalleled zeal to see the guilty punished, they now consider a worrisome problem.
For the people no longer guaranteed any protection by our laws will have their day in God’s court – a day when all ears will hear.
— Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.
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